Politics, in the (dis)United States is similar to sports in that one of two parties wins each election, but politics is significantly different from sports because the parties’ policy differences directly impact our quality of life. When your favorite athlete or sports team loses, life goes on, the same as before. There’s far, far less at stake.
Politics is a never-ending contest to create more hopeful, opportunistic conditions in which people might thrive; while sports is about unfulfilled fantasies mixed with the delusion that you can will your team to victory and the temporal bragging rights winning accords you. The bragging rights are fleeting because after every season records are wiped clean and there’s a complete reset.
In politics, we’re at a point where each side almost instinctively questions one another’s sanity and humanity. In contrast, we don’t wonder how can a sane person be a Chicago Bears fan, a Minnesota Timberwolves fan, a Chelsea fan, a Duke fan? Well, maybe Duke isn’t the best example since any Carolina fan will tell you that Duke has a distinctively Republican vibe. But I digress. We know sports fans choose their teams based upon some mix of nostalgia and geography, not a sense of superiority.
In contemporary U.S. politics, resentments continuously build. Records are never wiped clean and there are never any resets. As the last 5-10 years so clearly illustrates, antipathy just builds and builds and builds.
It’s to the point now, where I believe many Republican opinion leaders care more about Democrats doing poorly in elections than they care about the country doing well. Undoubtedly, many Republicans suspect the same of many Democratic opinion leaders.
That myopia of only seeing electoral trees at the expense of the forest is distinct to politics. Sports fans don’t cheer when opposing players are injured. In fact, despite a minority of “boo birds”, the majority don’t root against the other team, they simply root for their “home” team.
Of course, the problem with my “less politics, more sports” plea is that political apathy enables incompetent and/or corrupt politicians to harm the common good even more. In the end, I’m advocating for being more sports-like in our politics. How about organizing and rooting for your team without demonizing the other one nearly as much. And for a change of pace, root for your country even more than your team.